For an area with a permanent population of less than 40,000 people who are scattered across 90 miles of barrier islands, the Outer Banks has a remarkable diversity of activities. Much of that is a result of our tourist driven economy, but once the vacationers leave our area, the off-season months continue to offer very worthwhile events.
Some events are a direct result of institutions that evolved around the desire to provide visitors with a better vacation experience, and one outstanding example is Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo.
A 25 acre site, it is remarkable how much history and activities are coordinated in one facility. For history buffs and families seeking to learn more about how the earliest European settlers came to the New World there is the Elizabeth II–a replica of a 16th century merchant ship, complete with actors playing the part of British merchantmen.
There is also The Roanoke Adventure Museum that children will find fascinating. Inside the museum hall are exhibits of an American Indian town, an early English settlement and an interactive display of the history of Roanoke Island.
Those people familiar with RIFP know it as one of the finest outdoor concert venues. The outdoor pavilion opens to a view of Roanoke Sound and performers on stage are framed by spectacular Outer Banks vistas. There is a wide grassy field in front of the stage, ideal for a picnics and concert watching, and a number of national acts are making their way to the park.
In July of 2014, Bruce Hornsby was on stage and in September the 3rd Annual Bluegrass Festival took over the site for four days. Headliners included Rhonda Vincent and the Rage and Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder. The 2015 event has already been scheduled for September 23-26.
The complete 2016 lineup is not yet posted, but typically there concerts over Memorial Day weekend, a midsummer concert series, as well as the pre-scheduled Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.
The summer is the prime time for entertainment at the Park and children are not forgotten. A part of a regular touring stop for the North Carolina University System theater programs, include summer weeks filled with performances geared toward children which are held in the indoor theater.
The park does close in January and February, but it’s open during the rest of the year.